The Oxford Regional: Ole Miss
The Oxford, Mississippi Regional gets underway on Friday, with four college softball teams vying for a trip to the NCAA Super Regionals.
Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajuns, making their 21st-consecutive regional appearance, will be part of a field that also includes the Ole Miss Rebels, the top-seed in the regional, and the #11-overall seed, along with the Southeast Missouri St. Redhawks and the Chattanooga Mocs in the double-elimination event.
Louisiana will take on Southeast Missouri St. in the first game of the regional, on Friday at 3:30 pm, followed by a match-up pitting Ole Miss and Chattanooga at 6 pm.
Today, we preview the Ole Miss Rebels:
Making their 4th NCAA Tournament appearance, Ole Miss will be playing host to their second NCAA Regional.
Ole Miss hosted their first ever regional in 2017, fresh off the program's only SEC Tournament Championship, claiming three straight games to advance to a Super Regional.
The Rebels, who enter the regional with an overall record of 37-17, finished 5th in the SEC, after going 13-10 in league play during the regular season.
They're also capable of beating anybody.
Of the Rebels' 37 wins, 12 came against ranked teams.
Ole Miss enters the regional losing 5 of their last 6 games.
The Rebels are one of those teams that are really solid, if unspectacular, in every department.
They may not be great at any one thing, but they are pretty good at everything.
Offensively, although not mashers, Ole Miss can beat you in numerous ways.
Senior outfielder Kylan Baker leads the team is hitting (.411), on-base percentage (.472), triples (7) and stolen bases (28). She's a table-setter, and somebody you need to keep off base, if you plan to win.
Sophomore first baseman Abbey Latham is the Rebels' best run producer, entering the regional second on the team in hitting (.335), second in homers (8), first in runs batted in (48), and third in stolen bases (17).
Sophomore Jessica Puk paces Ole Miss in homers with 9.
Ole Miss features 4 players who are hitting at least a .285, while out-homering the opposition, 35-22.
On the flip-side, they will have five players in their starting lineup who are hitting under a .260, including three who are hitting under a .220.
Those 35 home runs aren't very intimidating either.
Simply put; Ole Miss is okay, but far from great, offensively.
Keep Baker off base (granted, easier said than done), and keep Latham and Puk from doing power damage, and they'll have some trouble scoring runs.
The Rebels rank 137th in the nation in hitting (.275), 119th in home runs-per-game (0.65), 105th in slugging percentage (.426), 12th in stolen bases (2.12 per game), and 58th in scoring offense (5.23 runs a game).
They're also a team that makes the opposing pitcher throw a lot of pitches, walking 147 times, while striking out 255 times.
Again; Ole Miss is not a great offensive team, but they are more than capable of scoring runs.
Pitching-wise, the Rebels feature a true "pitching staff", with three pitchers who have seen action in at least 21 games.
Junior left-hander Molly Jacobsen will enter the regional with a record of 13-6, to go along with a 1.97 ERA.
Maybe the most impressive thing about Jacobsen is that despite being a strikeout pitcher (142 K's over 145.1 innings pitched), she's only allowed 6 home runs all season.
Sophomore right-hander Ava Tillman (8-2, 2.13 ERA.) and senior right-hander Brittany Finney (15-9, 2.81 ERA.) are other options behind Jacobsen.
Ole Miss brings in an overall team ERA. of 2.11 into the regional, which currently ranks them 26th in the nation.
It's not a "lights out" pitching staff, but a good one; probably the strength of their team.
Mike Smith, the former McNeese St. coach, now in his 5th year at Ole Miss, has done a really nice job.
Ole Miss had only two winning seasons in 18 years prior to Smith’s arrival, but he has turned them into an NCAA Regional fixture.
To be truthful, if Louisiana is going to win the Oxford Regional, they're likely going to have to get by Ole Miss.
The Rebels are the most talented, most balanced, and deepest team that the Cajuns will play this weekend; plus they're playing at home.
It should be a fun weekend in Oxford.
The complete regional schedule is below:
NCAA OXFORD REGIONAL SCHEDULE
Friday, May 17, 2019
G1: 3:30 p.m. – Southeast Missouri St. vs. Louisiana
G2: 6 p.m. – Chattanooga vs. Ole Miss
Saturday, May 18, 2019
G3: Noon – Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2
G4: 2:30 p.m. – Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2
G5: 5 p.m. – Winner Game 4 vs. Loser Game 3
Sunday, May 19, 2019
G6: 2 p.m. – Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 5
G7: 4:30 p.m. – (if necessary) Winner Game 6 vs. Loser Game 6